Dan (Hebrew: דּן, Dān; "judged"), (b. 2249 AM or 1755 BC), was the fifth son of Jacob and first son of Bilhah. He is the ancestor of the Tribe of Dan, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Probable birth date

Possibly in the early fall of 2248 AM (1756 BC), Rachel protested to Jacob concerning her lack of children. She told Jacob that if he didn't "give" her children, she would die. Jacob retorted in anger that he did not stand in the place of God, Who alone decided questions of that sort. So Rachel offered her handmaid, Bilhah, as her surrogate.

Dan was born in the next summer, and Rachel said, "God has judged me, and heard my voice, and given me a son." (Genesis 30:1-6 , Genesis 35:25 )

Dan's place in the birth order of the sons of Jacob, and the placement of the birth of Joseph in the fourteenth year of the service of Jacob to Laban, implies the year and season of Dan's birth.[1]

Entry into Egypt

In 2298 AM (1706 BC), Dan came to Egypt permanently, having visited Egypt twice before to buy grain during the famine of 2296-2302 AM (1708-1701 BC). He was 49 years old at the time and had one named son, Hushim. (Genesis 46:23 )

In his deathbed blessing, Jacob said this of Dan:

Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider tumbles backward. Genesis 49:16-17

This dual nature might refer to the future history of the tribe of Dan, which is not flattering. The Danites would be one of the most corrupt of all the tribes and would in fact lose its inheritance. Yet from Dan would come one of Israel's most important judges, namely Samson.

Biblical references

Owing to the Book of Judges, in the account of Micah's Idol, describing the tribe of Dan as having used ephod and teraphim in worship, and Samson (a member of the tribe of Dan) being described as failing to adhere to the rules of a Nazarite, classical rabbinical writers concluded that Dan was very much a black sheep;[2] in the Book of Jeremiah, the north of Canaan is associated with darkness and evil,[3] and so rabbinical sources treated Dan as the archetype of wickedness.[2] In the apocryphal Testaments of the Patriarchs, Dan is portrayed as having hated Joseph, and having been the one that invented the idea of deceiving Jacob by the smearing of Joseph's coat with the blood of a kid;[4][5][6] in the apocryphal Prayer of Asenath, Dan is portrayed as plotting with the Egyptian crown prince, against Joseph and Asenath.[2] In the Blessing of Jacob, Dan is described as a serpent, which seems to have been interpreted as connecting Dan to Belial,[2] a connection made, for example, in the apocryphal Testament of Dan;[7] early Christian writers, such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus, even believed that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan[8][9] drawing the belief from a verse from the Book of Jeremiah which states the snorting of [the enemy's] horses was heard from Dan.[2][10]

John the apostle omits the tribe of Dan when mentioning the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel, in regard to the 144,000 sealed Israelites.[11] Perhaps this is a testimony of the unworthiness of Dan. Instead of Dan, the tribe of Joseph appears twice.

See also


  1. Jones, Floyd N. The Chronology of the Old Testament. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 278.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jewish Encyclopedia
  3. Jeremiah 1:14
  4. Testament of Dan 1
  5. Testament of Zebulun 4
  6. Testament of Gad 1
  7. Testament of Dan, 5
  8. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses,
  9. Hippolytus, Of Christ and Antichrist
  10. Jeremiah 8:16
  11. Revelations 7:5-8
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Dan (Bible). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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